Organic bananas in Sudan: challenges and opportunities for developing export chains

J.W.H. van der Waal, J. Clercx, G. Gutiérrez González, B. Elhassan, S. Babiker, M. Bolton
In the mid-2000s, the Ministry of Agriculture of Sudan started a project to promote rural development by exporting organic bananas to the Middle East and Europe. The project entailed a demand-driven coherent design of an export chain. For the European market, the potential to grow organic bananas is promising, as Sudan offers fertile soils with a climate exerting low disease pressure. A value-chain analysis offers insights into the competitive advantage, the nodes through which the product passes, and the key performance indicators for success at every node. Based on this approach, tests were conducted to identify cultivars with the best yields and agricultural and economic advantages for both market destinations. An export chain was developed, using technology used by small farmers in Latin America, using South-South knowledge exchange, to develop a logistic chain able to handle effective exports for both market destinations. With small and adapted investments and a carefully designed capacity building intervention, large improvements in the functioning of the chain could be achieved. The intervention showed also that a number of issues are complex and need further study, such as the availability of workers, their skills, and migrant and child labor. Shipments to the Middle East were analyzed and compared with the traditional approach. A test shipment of organic bananas for export to Europe was also carried out to test the packing and the logistics process and evaluate the quality and reception by customers upon arrival in Europe. The project failed to address value chain elements, such as logistics, marketing and economics, and the exacting requirements of quality systems, which made the interventions less effective. Analysis showed that involving industry partners, especially banana importers, was necessary to align elements in the value chain and overcome any “rate-limiting steps” thus rendering the value chain viable.
van der Waal, J.W.H., Clercx, J., Gutiérrez González, G., Elhassan, B., Babiker, S. and Bolton, M. (2016). Organic bananas in Sudan: challenges and opportunities for developing export chains. Acta Hortic. 1114, 285-290
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1114.38
cultivar, farmer organization, knowledge exchange, irrigation, logistics, value chain

Acta Horticulturae